Haitong Bank – formerly BES Investments and now under Chinese ownership – is being accused of ‘bullying and persecution’.
Workers have seen their salaries reduced, benefits slashed and agreements annulled while the Chinese CEO is described as leading a “life of luxury”, say reports.
The bank used to be the country’s largest investment bank – part of the elite within the Espírito Santo group, says Expresso today.
Since being taken over by Haitong Securities, “it is a shadow of its former self”, says the paper.
“It is getting smaller, both geographically and in dimension. And workers at the Lisbon headquarters endure an atmosphere of persecution focused on an aggressive reduction of costs and obeying those in charge”.
Says the paper, it has reached the point where the Bank of Portugal has “asked for explanations… for fear of negative impact on mechanisms of control”.
Rumours started circulating in the press around a week ago.
Said Sol syndicates within the sector have now “promised” to take note of what goes on.
Staff complaints started growing “with the arrival of the new (Chinese) CEO in 2017, says the paper’s online.
Since Wu Min’s arrival, “only one executive director has remained in position”.
“The numbers speak for themselves”, says SOL. Around 11 directors are no longer in place, and “there is persecution of whoever manifests different opinions or discord with any measure decided by the CEO”.
Said sources described as “unanimous”, it’s “not a question of difficulties in adapting to western practices of governance but of there being no interest in adapting to reality and the Portuguese market”.
The situation has descended to the point where benefits, like company cars, have been withdrawn – and loans to staff – which were almost automatic before– refused.
The bank has also stopped paying ‘extra’ for staff working through Bank Holidays – and there is the fear, says SOL, that the pension fund at the bank could be changed, or even ‘eliminated’.
All this swirls as the CEO himself apparently enjoys an extraordinary panoply of benefits: not only does his salary (644,689 euros per annum) make him one of the highest paid CEO’s in Portugal, he has his rent (5000 euros per month) paid, his son’s schooling at Cascais’ St Julian’s (where fees start at roughly 10,000 per year in the primary school, reaching 23,000 in Year 12) covered and sundry ‘representation expenses’ paid as well as the use of two top-of-the-range cars.
But – and this is a big but – the bank has gone from declaring millions of euros in losses over the last four years to a 1.2 million euro profit (2018) – and as anyone would expect, the new CEO sees this as reason for pride.
In a statement on last year’s results, Wu Min suggested they were “motivation for the whole team to continue with their work in an organisation grounded in meritocracy and integrity”.
A source for the bank assured SOL meantime that there is no “generalised reduction in employee benefits in progress”. Instead a “set of measures” has been implemented “to value all (Haitong’s) employees in a transparent way, in line with productivity criteria, within the best practices and regulated by the financial sector, ensuring sound and prudent management”.